Frequently Asked Questions

Beads
What are lampwork beads?
What are seed beads?
Why are lampwork beads annealed?
Chains
How are the chains made?
Do you tumble your jump rings?
Why do you use decimal inches rather than metric measurements for your rings?
Kits
What is included in your kits?
What is the tag in the pictures, and is it included in the kit?
Why do you make kits with brass and copper if they tarnish so rapidly?
Metals
What metals do you use?
What is fine silver?
What is Argentium® 930 Silver?
What is 14/20 gold filled?
What is 14 karate gold?
What is Niobium?
What is brass?
What is NuGold?
What is copper?
Miscellaneous
How can I remove tarnish from sterling silver jewelry?
How do you ship?
Do you ship internationally?

What are lampwork beads?

Historically lampwork beads were beads made by melting and forming raw glass over the open flame of an oil lamp. Today a torch is used to heat glass rods to over 1700 degrees fahrenheit. The molten glass is wound on a mandrel (a stainless steel rod) and shaped into a bead using gravity and various tools.

I use "soda-lime" glass and properly anneal the beads in a bead kiln.

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What are seed beads?

Seed beads are manufactured small beads (like small round seeds). They come in many colors and range in size from 11/0 to 15/0.

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Why are lampwork beads annealed?

When a bead is annealed it is heated to a temperature which allows the molecules of the glass to rearrange themselves, reducing internal stress, thereby tempering and strengthening the bead.

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What metals do you use?

We use Argentium® 930 Silver, fine silver, 14/20 gold filled, 14 karate gold and niobium materials in our jewelry. We also use NuGold, and copper materials in our kits.

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What is fine silver?

Fine silver, or 99.9% silver, is too soft for most jewelry uses, although we do use it for bezels, casting, and in other specific areas.

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What is Argentium® 930 Silver?

Argentium® 930 Silver is a firescale-free, tarnish resistant sterling silver alloy. Sterling silver is at least 92.5% silver and the rest is usually copper. In Argentium® 930 Silver some of the copper is replaced with Germanium which makes it very tarnish resistant. However, all silver will eventually tarnish.

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What is 14/20 gold filled?

14/20 gold filled material is made by heat and pressure-bonding 14 karate gold to a brass core. The material we use is 14/20 gold filled. That means it is 5% 14 karate gold by weight. Gold filled material has an actual layer of gold covering the core, rather than just the microscopic layer as does gold-plated material, and is much more durable.

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What is 14 karate gold?

14 karate gold is an alloy of 58.33% (14/24ths) gold and other metals, most likely silver and copper.

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What is Niobium?

Niobium is a metal that can be anodized to some brilliant colors. However, the color is only in a very thin surface layer that can be damaged by rough handling.

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What is brass?

Brass, also called NuGold by some suppliers, is an alloy that usually contains 85% copper and 15% zinc. It tarnishes similar to copper. I have pieces that have been in my sample trays for several months that barely show a tarnish. However, when in contact with the skin, it may start to tarnish in just days. It is very dependent on the chemistry of the wearer, including lotions, perfumes, etc.

We consider our brass kits to be tutorial kits with practice jump rings and clasps, rather than final projects. Based on individual body chemistry, brass tends to tarnish very rapidly. Also, there is commonly a color difference between the jump rings and the clasps, because the brass clasps are generally a slightly different alloy and may have been antiqued.

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What is NuGold?

NuGold, also called red brass, Merlin's Gold, and Jeweler's Bronze, is an alloy that usually contains 85% copper and 15% zinc. It tarnishes similar to copper. I have pieces that have been in my sample trays for several months that barely show a tarnish. However, when in contact with the skin, it may start to tarnish in just days. It is very dependent on the chemistry of the wearer, including lotions, perfumes, etc.

We consider our NuGold kits to be tutorial kits with practice jump rings and clasps, rather than final projects. Based on individual body chemistry, NuGold tends to tarnish very rapidly. Also, there is commonly a color difference between the jump rings and the clasps, because the NuGold clasps are generally a slightly different alloy and have been antiqued.

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What is copper?

Copper is a very soft metal that is good for practicing the weaves. It tarnishes quite rapidly and the speed of tarnishing is very dependent on the chemistry of the wearer, including lotions, perfumes, etc.

We consider our copper kits to be tutorial kits with practice jump rings and clasps, rather than final projects. Based on individual body chemistry, copper tends to tarnish very rapidly. Also, there is commonly a color difference between the jump rings and the clasps, because the copper clasps are generally copper plated.

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Why do you make kits with NuGold and copper if they tarnish so rapidly?

We make kits using NuGold and copper so our students can learn, and practice, a new weave, to see if they like the completed piece before investing in precious metal for a project. NuGold is also a little harder than copper, so the sample project is more durable than if it was made out of copper.

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How are the chains made?

For our ring chains we start by wrapping wire around a mandrel to form a coil of the correct inside diameter for the rings we need to make the chain. The coil is then cut perpendicular to the wrapped wire to form rings. Each ring is opened, inserted through other rings to form the interlocking chain pattern, and closed. The ring ends are butted together, although some rings that might be stressed, e.g., connecting to the clasp, will be soldered closed.

Chains which involve multiple rings between links are not generally soldered unless there is an obvious structural weakness caused by not soldering the link.

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Do you tumble your jump rings?

No, we wait until the project has been completed and then tumble the whole item. Burnishing actually moves metal to smooth the surface, and therefore it would tend to round the edges of the cut in the rings and make the joint slightly more visible. Burnishing the joints after they have been closed really helps to conceal the joint in a well closed ring. Any burrs on the jump ring will be easily and quickly removed by tumbling the whole item.

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Why do you use decimal inches rather than metric measurements for your rings?

We use decimal inches, rather than metric measurements, because using mandrels in 64ths of an inch provides a smaller increment between sizes than the 0.5mm increment commonly available with metric sizes. We do also use 3mm and 5mm sized mandrels to fill a couple of gaps in the smooth increase of the smaller jump rings. Remember, inches may be converted to millimeters, and visa-versa, quite easily with a calculator. Simply multiply inches by 25.4 to get millimeters, or divide millimeters by 25.4 to get inches.

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What is included in your kits?

Our kits include detailed directions, jump rings, and findings. They include any metal beads required, but in general do not include the glass beads. Please refer to our list of recommended tools for the tools you need.

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What is the tag in the pictures, and is it included in the kit?

The tag in the pictures is my Trademark, and the quality mark for the metal. No, it is not included in the kit. It only appears on finished pieces that I have made. Note that the FTC Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries state that if quality mark is present a Trademark, or name, must also be present.

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How can I remove tarnish from sterling silver jewelry?

We use Goddard's Silver Polish liquid (#707184), or Goddard's Silver Polishing Cloth (#707684), to remove tranish and put the final shine on our finished pieces.

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How do you ship?

Please refer to our shipping page to see our charges. Please note that these charges are subject to change depending on the USPS Priority Mail rate changes.

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Do you ship internationally?

Outside the United States we ship via Priority Mail International to specific countries. Please review the list of countries we currently ship to for cost and limitations. If your country was not included, please contact us before you finalize the order and we will review the regulations before you make payment.

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